Gluten-free muffin top

I know I’ve said this many times before, but it bears frequent repeating since so many people are waylaid by this “gluten-free” notion:

NOBODY should be eating gluten-free foods made with cornstarch, rice starch, tapioca starch, or potato starch. These starches in the dried, powdered form provide an exponential increase in surface area for digestion, thereby leading to sky-high blood sugar and all the consequences of extravagant glycation (glucose-modification of proteins), such as diabetes, visceral fat accumulation, hypertension, cataracts, arthritis, low HDL/high triglycerides/increased small LDL particles, heart disease, and cancer.

Here are comments from Holly about her experience with gluten-free foods before she learned about their dangerous health effects:

About a year before I read your book, I was diagnosed with probable celiac disease or gluten intolerance (life-long stomachaches, gas, bloating, diarrhea, esophageal gurgling, severely low serum ferritin levels, migraines, etc.) but, thank goodness, my physician told me a gluten-challenge with intestinal biopsy was not necessary with how radically my symptoms improved when I removed gluten from my diet.

Unfortunately, my road to gluten-free resulted in major weight gain and an awful muffin top for me. I read books which stated that some patients do experience this phenomenon on a gluten-free diet as a result of intestines healing and taking in nutrients again. (In fact, I read that some patients choose to go back to eating gluten and have diarrhea, etc., to control their weight–crazy!) I also had reached perimenopause, and wondered if I would have to accept the fact that this may just be a fact of life, as many women had shared with me their fight with a “menopot.” My weight gain was seriously unbelievable. I felt like Tim Allen in the Santa Clause movies!

Here is where your book was so beneficial to me. In your book, you discussed the reasons you don’t recommend any gluten-free products. It was a light bulb moment for me! That day, I pretty much removed all grains from my diet, and the results were simply astounding. I was amazed how quickly I started to lose my “wheat-belly.” My “Santa-Clause” phenomenon reversed SO quickly I could hardly believe it. It seemed like daily I would wake up and my stomach was getting flatter and flatter. I also finally started to heal from a weird balance issue I had been experiencing. I will be forever grateful to you. Thank you SO much!

So we don’t replace one problem–modern semi-dwarf wheat–with another problem–gluten-free junk carbohydrates in this dried, pulverized form.

This is such an incredible blunder that is growing because, as more people embrace the idea of being gluten-free, they turn to these foods that are now found in most grocery stores.

So let’s be absolutely clear: NOBODY should be eating these awful gluten-free foods made with junk carbohydrate ingredients! It may be “organic,” “multigrain,” “sprouted,” “fair trade,” or pink with purple polka dots . . . gluten-free foods made with cornstarch, rice starch, tapica starch, and potato starch KILL people and no one should eat them!

And, you know, it has often struck me as odd that some of the objections to the ideas brought forth in Wheat Belly come from the celiac and gluten-free communities. Take a look, however, at some of the gluten-free magazines, websites, and blogs and you will see prominent ads for–yup–gluten-free foods made with cornstarch, rice starch, tapica starch, and potato starch.

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110 Responses to Gluten-free muffin top

  1. Pingback: Gluten-free muffin top | My Blog

  2. karine hinton says:

    Dr. davis, completely support your book. My husband was cured of syndrome x issues and sleep apnea, by going on a simple carbohydrate diet Elaine Gotschild (basically no complex carbs). I also had my fibromyalgia, arthritis, and migraines disappear. After a few years, we stayed away from wheat, but I fell into the gluten·free trap and thoug some products were ok. I now know better but I am still struggling with health issues. [my naturopath and I figured through many years of trials that grains and gluten were affecting me, as well as all beans and soy.) Two question: is is there any starch out there ok? I can do some rice, teff, and quinoa…but I am not sure any more. Secondly: also my doctor advises now against any grain fed meats…I noticed nothing on this topic…any research? Seems that I am getting very sensitive to many type of complex carbs. Meats too?

    Thank you

    • Dr. Davis says:

      You are getting at the issue of individual carbohydrate tolerance, Karine. Most adults can tolerate up to about 15 grams “net” carbs (total carbs minus fiber) per meal.

      Yes, livestock fed corn, wheat, and soy tend to have different fatty acid composition, especially polyunsaturates like linoleic acid, as well as reduced linolenic acid and other healthy fatty acids.

  3. Kurt Dreger says:

    Dr. Davis,

    I enjoy making spaghetti for my boys. I bought a gluten-free, wheat free spaghetti noodles, made by a European company. The labeled said it was made from “corn flour” and “rice flour.” Are these flours the same as “cornstarch” and “rice starch” respectively?


    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, sorry, Kurt.

      They cause diabetes, high blood sugar, high blood insulin, insulin resistance, visceral fat accumulation, inflammation, cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

      It is a darned shame that the stuff is even sold. It should be sold with a warning stating something like the above.

  4. Janice says:

    Dr Davis, I have just started reading your book and am enjoying it very much. In march of this year I eliminated wheat and greatly reduced the intake of other starches from my diet for weight loss purposes and have lost 30 lbs, going from a size 12 to a size 6 in just 4 months. I also put my 5 year old autistic son on a gluten/casien free diet, and saw an incredible improvement in his speech, behaviors, and obsessive tendencies. I often say that I felt as though I ‘met’ him for the first time again once we changed his diet. I admit though, in my ignorance I have substituted into his diet many of these ‘gluten free’ products because he still asks for pasta, sandwiches, muffins, etc. After reading your “Be Gluten Free, But Don’t Eat Gluten Free” passage in your book I realize that I am going to have to completely re-think the way I approach my son’s diet. I’m nervous about how I am going to accomplish this with an already VERY picky eater, but I am encouraged by the thought that removing these ‘gluten free’ food products may bring about even more improvements in his development.

  5. Tracy says:

    I’m so frustrated trying to find good childcare around here. Everyone seems to be following the government mandated food plan, and they all require me to have my toddler’s doctor sign off on even a gluten free eating plan, much less a grain free eating plan. They will go along with my requests to limit sugar without one, at least, but I want more. Educating all the doctors is much too slow.

  6. elaine says:

    Dr Davis- I started reading your book and i love it! its very enlightening. My Danish boyfriend has celiac so he has been gluten free for years (though eating gluten free foods), but he is athletic and has no weight problem. I still ate gluten until I started reading your book. I’m wondering if Ezekiel Food for Life breads are ok to eat- I have been eating their sprouted wheat, flourless breads, but i see they offer gluten free breads made with black rice flour and brown rice flour. Is black rice flour better for you than white rice flour? Is there any type of commercially available breads made with almond flour or something thats ok to eat?

    • Jim says:

      I have the same question…

      • James says:

        Hi there,

        Two things:

        1- why do you need bread ? Your message sounds desperate but I may be wrong.

        2- make your own with almond flour. Plenty of recipes out there, even my own somewhere on this blog :)

        • Lizzie says:

          I have been wheat free for 3 weeks and loving it! James, I found your almond bread recipe and happily went home to make it for my daughter (15). She has been wheat and dairy (mainly to control acne) free for 1.5 weeks and is in the craving stage… where you crave crunchy breadrolls/bread sticks etc.. She loved the almond bread, so hopefully this will help her through the cravings and she can come out the other side happy to be wheat and dairy free ! Thanks again.

          • Darlene says:

            How is your daughter’s acne doing? Hopefully gone by now! I’m looking for a solution for my 16 yr old daughter’s acne problem…so hope this is the answer. Although she is a very picky eater & already very skinny so this will be tough!

      • sara says:

        I’ve noticed that every time someone asks a question regarding rice, the question is either dismissed with a “I will be discussing that in following years” or completely ignored. I want to know why. I’ve been scouring the blogs trying to find a post in which the question was answered. I am a major proponent for the low-carb anti-wheat idea ever since I first saw fathead. Every time I eat wheat, flour, simple carbs my body lets me know it’s pissed. But I also know that I get sick of eating meat, veggies and cheese all the time. I recently found organic brown rice spaghetti at TJ’s, it’s ingredients are water and brown rice. When I eat it I feel perfect. Same with brown rice bread. So why no brown rice? What is the correlation to wheat? Same goes for milk, why only one serving a day?

        • Judy says:

          I agree. I want to know why. Also, I have read another book, called the Insulin Resistance Diet, which teaches you to pair 7 grams of protein with 15 grams of carbs, and to eat no more than 30 grams of carbs in any two hour period. That diet works. However, I really do think that wheat is causing me the problems with muscle and joint pain, brain fog, and constipation. SO, I am cutting out the wheat and gluten. However, I don’t see why the IR diet principles wouldn’t work if you wanted to substitute gluten free foods. I understand from Dr. Davis that the added starches raise blood sugar a lot, but if you are linking and balancing those carbs with enough protein and not eating them by themselves, I don’t see why you couldn’t include them in your diet as a substitute for gluten containing products. As I understand it, the protein mitigates the carbs, and keeps them from entering the bloodstream all at once.. thus keeping your blood sugar more stable and avoiding the spikes (and valleys of hypoglycemia). It has worked for me in the past, even when I was eating wheat, so I’m going to try it.

          All of the above to say, I’m going to experiement. I’m taking wheat and gluten out of my diet ALTOGETHER, and I’m going to go ahead and include some gluten free foods, I’m eating corn, rice, and potatoes, as well as real sugar. BUT, I’m following the Insulin Resistance Diet principles while doing so.

          I think those two diets together are the key.

          • Boundless says:

            Until we get more word on rice, which may be peculiar among carbs, I’d suggest:

            Avoid rice flour entirely, and be highly suspicious of processed foods containing rice that is not obviously in whole grain form.

            Avoid or minimize sticky white rice (sushi) as this has a very high GI.

            Tend toward wild or brown, long grain.

            Mind the net carbs.
            30 grams in a 2 hour period may or may not spike your blood sugar, but even if it doesn’t, it will keep your metabolism strongly skewed toward glycemic, slowing/delaying fat metabolism (and slowing or delaying weight loss, if that’s the goal).

  7. Louise Fitzgerald says:

    Dr. Davis – I read your book last night and found it fascinating and informative. It really reinforced my own belief that low carb eating is the way to go. I did the Ideal Protein plan for a month or so and the belly fat just fell off – it was amazing. Of course, there is no wheat on that plan! But i want to do something a little more natural and eat more “real food”, as opposed to meal replacements. Thus, my exploration – i think I’m sold!
    I do have one question – several people who have read and agreed with your book have recommended to me that i try Ezekial Bread (which i love) or rye bread (which i also like), arguing that these are metabolized somewhat differently than regular whole white or white bread. I was wondering what you think about that? I don’t have celiac disease and can do without wheat/pasta/rice fairly easily – but virtually all my fat is around my middle and when i slip up, i bloat up like a balloon. I don’t really get cravings but I do like a piece of toast or a sandwich every now and then – are these products “safe” in small doses?
    Again, thanks for the book. I wish I had found you when I was still living in Madison – i was looking for a preventive cardiologist and had not much luck!

  8. Pingback: All Natural Low-Carb Gluten Free Bread | The Natural Nutritionist

  9. nancy says:

    Dr Davis. just finished reading your book great read with so much information. I have decided to make a change I will keep you posted on how I do.

  10. Leah says:

    Dr. Davis,

    Please explain to me how you expect an endurance athlete to survive on a “diet” like this. I find it extremely impractical to follow something like this 100% when training requires something more than fruits and nuts.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, this lifestyle is not articulated to accommodate endurance exercise. However, a growing number of athletes are beginning to appreciate that they have been ruining their health with overexposure to grains and sugars and that practices like carb-loading are enormously destructive.

      Once you have reconditioned to a wheat-free low-carb lifestyle, which requires around 4 weeks and involves impaired physical capacity, then most people do fine just supplementing carbs like bananas, Gu, baked sweet potatoes, and non-wheat energy bars DURING an event.

  11. Jillian says:

    My mother-in-law is 51 years old and has suffered from ulcerative colitis for 20 years, topped off with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis 5 years ago. Last year she began to eat paleo (part of which involves eating NO grains) and her MS was almost completely reversed within 8 months, along with significant improvements with her colitis. She “cheated” on her birthday and had a piece of cake…which put her in the emergency room to receive IV fluids after two days of being extremely ill. She doesn’t cheat anymore!

    Over the last year I’ve watched her and several other family members and friends make dietary changes that all eliminated wheat (and grains to varying degrees) with incredible results, and I’ve felt like this lifestyle change has been hunting me down. After a year of half-heartedly making improvements to my own diet, my grandma gave me “Wheat Belly” and I loved it. My uncle’s lost 20 lbs since November, my dad lost 5 in a couple weeks, and I FINALLY decided to go for it 100% because I am young, healthy, and have no excuses to eat garbage when I have so many excellent examples of the healing power of whole foods. So I cut wheat (and really watch my intake of other grains) three weeks ago.

    Shortly afterwards I took my 6-month old baby boy to an allergy specialist due to really nasty eczema….guess what? Our son can’t handle wheat either! Now I’m not just doing it for myself, but my diet choices affect my baby as long as I’m nursing him. We’ve already seen improvements in his skin, and I am becoming pretty passionate about this whole thing!
    Thank you for a well-researched, delightfully controversial and life-changing read. I’ve never felt better!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Excellent, Jillian!

      You can appreciate that NO human–young, old, male, female–should consume wheat, as nobody escapes its destructive effects!

  12. RK Dingman says:

    Dr. Davis:
    For a positive result with the genetic testing for gluten intolerance, what are the odds that a relative or family member will also have the gluten sensitivity gene? For example, mother positive, father negative: what % children will inherit gene?

    Thanks for a courageous and most comprehensive book.

    R K Dingman

  13. Cynthia Boohene says:

    Dr Davis,
    Just wanted to know if goat’s milk is allowed on this diet?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, a wonderful food. My wife is miserably dairy (cow) intolerant and we often use goat products instead.

      • Cynthia Boohene says:

        Thanks Dr Davis for confirming about goat’s milk
        What about arrowroot can that be used as a thickener and also for making bread? I came across a paleo recipe that uses this to make bread. let me know your thoughts
        Cynthia Boohene

        • Boundless says:

          > … arrowroot …
          Use coconut flour.

          • Cynthia Boohene says:

            I didn’t explain myself well. The recipe uses almond flour 1.5 cups & then 3/4 cup arrow root. It gives the ”bread” the consistency of wheat bread? Is arrow root gluten free?

        • Dr. Davis says:

          Not the best choice, Cynthia.

          My first choice is coconut flour: It has none of the carbohydrate challenges as the arrowroot.

  14. Sarah B says:

    Hi Dr Davis,

    I went wheat/gluten free on January 1 after I started reading your book (not done yet, but it’s already helping). I lost weight quickly for the first 2 weeks, but stopped after that, and even gained a bit. I just read this post about the ingredients found in gluten-free food, so I went and read everything gluten-free I had in my cupboards – oh my goodness. I ended up throwing away everything!! I do have some packages of rice pasta, can you let me know if these are safe? (I miss pasta so much): There is only these 3 ingredients: whole-grain brown rice, rice bran & water. Thanks!
    I also bought your cook-book last week, looking forward to start making some pizza crusts and bread from scratch. Thank you so much for all this great info :)


  15. Debbie says:

    Hi dr. Davis

    Just read your book and can see why gf is not enough. I have been diagnosed with celiac 14 years but gained weight which has been extremely difficult to lose any pounds. I feel your suggestions on iodine and no grain or sugar may be key.

    Can you offer any suggestions to curb cravings while my body adjusts. I am wondering if sugar and gf flours are addictive too, as I struggle with cravings on low carb diets.

  16. Toni says:

    I just came across this blog when searching for adverse reactions to starches in gluten free foods. I’m so glad I did. I have tested negative for celiac, but following a gluten free diet for suspected gluten sensitivity. I have not had any positive or negative symptoms come about from following the diet…. I feel the same. BUT, I have recently noticed a change in my mid section. I am a very active, fit person who exercises regularly and it is driving me mad. The only thing I have changed is my diet. I thought I had investigated and picked gluten free options that were low cal, lower in fat, lower in sugars/sodium, etc. So I start reading more into the ingredients….. STARCH EVERYTHING. I felt so stupid, as I read all labels and evaluate food nutrition like crazy! I was so disappointed in myself, maybe I was just so desperate to feel better. But I am bloated and puffy all of the time but yet I feel so starved!

    So my question is….. Is this really worth the trouble if I am not feeling any different? The bulk of my wheat intake comes from whole wheat bread (1 slice/day) and Multi-Grain Cherrios. I know gaining a few pounds isn’t the end of the world, but a few lbs on my 5’4 small frame is not acceptable if I am not feeling the benefit elsewhere, right?

  17. Diane D says:

    OK, so now feel guilty about buying into the notion of eating GF cookies, etc and wondering why my wheat belly is somewhat reappeared…So, I’m getting that the best way to eat is a grain-free, Paleo-type diet? BTW, I love Trader J’s organic rice pasta…While common sense dictates eating it in moderation, I would like some clarification about this product…Dr. Davis, what say you?

    Thx, Diane

  18. Pingback: All Natural Low-Carb Gluten Free Bread | The Natural Nutritionist

  19. Silfren says:

    Dr. Davis,
    I came here with the same question many others have been asking about gluten free foods. Can you name ANY at all that are acceptable at least in moderation?
    You advocate a non-wheat diet, but the practical upshot of your advice seems to be that you actually recommend a completely grain-free one altogether. Some clarification would be appreciated. But I find it very troublesome that even though you clearly do visit the comments section and respond to people, I’ve seen not one attempt from you to address people’s questions about gluten free products. It’s rather starting to look as if you’re deliberately avoiding this issue.

    • Jacqueline says:

      It’s been said over and over and over again! GF products are commonly high in carbs and are to be avoided like the plague!

    • Deborah says:

      Just an idea… but maybe you should read Wheat belly and/ or the Wheat belly cookbook. All the information on the disasterous consequences of gluten free foods on blood sugar and health are clearly explained.

    • Boundless says:

      > You advocate a non-wheat diet, but the practical upshot of your advice seems
      > to be that you actually recommend a completely grain-free one altogether.

      The recommendation ends up being low carb, specifically 15 grams net carbs per 6 hour period. Non-gluten grains would probably be otherwise acceptable, except that it takes only very small quantities to bust 15 grams. Some, like corn, have further issues (GMO).

      > Can you name ANY [GF foods] at all that are acceptable at least in moderation?

      The key is learning to read Nutrition Facts labels, and figure out for yourself what’s OK. If this blog were to list brand names, it would be outdated very soon. Most GF foods are sky high glycemic, way too low in fat, and often contain adverse saccharides (like agave and honey).

      Right now almost nothing on the GF aisle of stores around here is safe to eat. When that changes, the aisle name will probably become “Low Cal Aisle: or “Paleo Aisle”.

  20. JK Barefield says:

    Having read the comments about GF foods and pasta craving, I wonder if anyone here has tried the konjac flour noodles. I use the Miracle Noodle brand because they contain no soy. I have hypothyroidism and avoid soy. I find these special noodles are a great substitute for pasta and rice. Just this evening, I had some of the angel hair version, regular and spinach flavored. I had previously rinsed and boiled them. I put the noodles in a dry non-stick skillet over medium heat and pan roasted them until all the water had evaporated. I added a teaspoon of unsalted butter, a couple of tablespoons of garlic alfredo sauce, some leftover red bell pepper sauce, and some diced green onions. I mixed it all together and when everything was warm, I scooped it onto a plate and had that and a side salad for a tasty, low calorie, grain-free dinner. The good doctor has included recipes (at least one) for these noodles in his Wheat Belly book and in the cookbook.
    Sunday was Easter and I was included in a family meal with very considerate people, one of whom baked GF bread and brownies just for me. I am a diabetic and knew I should not eat these food gifts, but felt a social obligation. The result was blood sugar level of 302 after 2 hours. Still fighting high numbers the next day.
    Before I found Wheat Belly, I had been using almond flour and ground flax meal to make skillet breads, pancakes, crackers and a fine substitute for the cornbread stuffing that is part of my family Thanksgiving tradition. I got off plan and have regained 25 of the 55 pounds I had lost over several years. Once I found Dr Davis’ book, I got back to doing what I need to do. I am now living in a household surrounded by wheat products, bread, crackers, cereals, cakes, etc. I am caring for my 85 year-old father in the home he shares with his third wife (the wheat and sugar addict). This round, I have been wheat-free since February 16, 2013. So, six weeks in I am now going back to grain-free as well. I know I will make it to my weight loss goal this time.
    Thank you, Dr Davis, for writing this wonderful guide back to health!